“The world is too much with us,” William Wordsworth lamented over 200 years ago. If this was true in 1806 when he wrote his poem, you have to wonder how he would have responded to 24/7 cable, smartphones, the Internet, and hyper-connectivity that seems to define our lives today. When Wordsworth wrote those words he was bemoaning materialism, you have to wonder what he would have thought of today’s all too hurried and over connected world that makes it hard to concentrate on anything.
It’s becoming increasingly difficult to concentrate on anything today. Interruptions occur at every turn. Just take the student or professional sitting at their desk trying to get something done: After sitting down in an attempt to accomplish a given task, the computer blips at the reception of an email. We’ve got to check that. Then there’s a memo or notice that needs to be followed up on. Well, now it’s time to get to work on that paper. Oops. Someone drops by to tell you about their weekend happenings. We can’t be rude, now can we? So we give them our attention to hear about how that went. Then there’s a phone call, which we really must take. Goodbye to the friend. We’ll catch up with them at another time. A 10-minute phone call turns into 20-30 minutes, and then it’s over. We check the clock and see that it’s time for lunch and that paper hasn’t even been started yet. And we wonder why we can’t concentrate?
How to Concentrate on Tasks More Effectively
It’s probably miraculous that we get as much done at all. Even when we’re not interrupted by someone else, we’re interrupted by our own thoughts. Regardless of the source of your interruptions, here are a few tips to keep your concentration focused on your job at hand, whatever that job might be.
Transcend Your Environment
Concentration is, in its most basic form, the ability to keep your mind focused on a certain task and blocking out distractions. Have you ever found yourself so focused on an activity at hand that you never noticed something else that was going on in the same room, or maybe even right next to you? Or did you find yourself sitting back to read or work on something, and the next time you noticed it was and hour or more since you sat down? Did it ever occur to you that you can recreate the same situation whenever you want to? It’s easy to do.
First, remove everything on your desk or other work area that has nothing to do with the task at hand. If you do this you will probably feel better already. Just having piles of extraneous stuff on your desk is a huge mental burden, not to mention an easy distraction that’s easy to get rid of.
Next, cut out all other extraneous distractions such as the television, radio, CD player, and anything else that makes noise. Don’t forget the little things since we all know that when we sit down to concentrate on something it’s easy to let even the slightest tick of clock intrude on our thoughts.
Visualize Your Ideal Self
Did you ever wonder what it would be like have perfect concentration? It’s possible. What do you think it would feel like? What do you think you would look like being fully concentrated on what you are doing? Can you imagine the pride you would have if you were to be able to fully complete a project after you have concentrated on its completion? Visualizing yourself accomplishing anything is a big step forward toward getting something done. Then, after you have successfully visualized yourself doing something, acting “as if” is only one step further to getting it done.
The Most Interesting In the World
When was the last time you had a full appreciation for what you were doing? Did you have a project at hand that was so intriguing that you couldn’t image yourself doing anything else? Perhaps it was a book you were reading or a movie you were watching. Again, before you knew it, you were looking at the clock and noticing that hours had passed without your notice.
How do you recreate that same feeling with something that is so boring, so repulsive to read, that you just couldn’t stand the thought of reading it at all? It’s easy, just pretend that what you are reading is the most interesting thing in the world. It’s easy to do. All you have to do is to talk yourself into it, and before long you will have done it.
How to Concentrate on Studying
If you’re thinking about how to concentrate on studying, you might wonder if the following tips will be redundant. The answer is: not really. What you have read above pertains to a lot of things you might need to concentrate on, but when it comes to studying, chances are you are not really into what you’re trying to focus on.
Pick a Place and Time
Part of the difficulty many students have with studying is that they not only get to the work whenever they get around to it, but they end up doing it wherever they happen to end up. Unfortunately, this is not conducive to good study habits. For example, laying on a bed is not a good place to study, since most often a bed is where you sleep. Chances are good that if you do try to study on your bed, you will probably end up doing what you normally do in a bed, sleeping. Studying should be done at a desk or table where all of your supplies are close at hand. Otherwise, when you do begin and find that something is missing, you will need to leave your study area to find what you are looking for, one more reason to break your concentration.
If you don’t have a desk, table, or other specially designated work area, pack up your supplies and head for another place such as a library. There’s a good reason why libraries are quiet, so people can concentrate. Being in surroundings such as this will probably help you. [Check out: howtogetfocused.com]
Have a Brain-Boosting Snack
It’s hard to concentrate when you have other things on your mind, especially when you’re hungry. Why not satisfy your hunger pangs as well as your desire to concentrate by having a snack that will boost your mental power? Things like dark chocolate, blueberries, nuts and other super foods will keep your mind sharp and up to the task of feeding your brain.
Turn Off Interruptions
In this hyper connected world, it’s easy to get lulled into the constant stream of music, news, and other diversions. Radio, television, the Internet, and so many other technologies all demand our attention. But it’s important to remember that regardless of how attractive, fun, and entertaining these are, they only take us away from the goals that we strive to attain when we do concentrate. When it’s time to concentrate, turn everything off or get it out of earshot. You will be amazed at what you can concentrate on when you are free of these diversions.
How to Concentrate Better
A highly effective method of concentrating that not many people know about is to map out what you want to study and for what reason. Think of it as mapping out what you want to do. Before you begin your study session, write down what your goals are in concentrating on the materials at hand. Not only will this add to your ability to focus, but it will also let you know when you think you have accomplished your goals. It has the added benefit of showing you what is not important that might be going on at the same time. If something doesn’t contribute to your goal, get rid of it.
You’re on your way to better concentration.